In the practice of the Li Style (Lishi) Taijiquan, there are two major actions that many individuals who study and practice this particular family style have a tendency to not be aware of. What I am talking about you might say, well it is the use of the waist (Yao) and the hips (Kua) either individually or combined together as each individual performs their taijiquan movements. Because the Li Style Taijiquan can be performed within a small area, moving in eight directions, some times it means that the individual involves the turning of the whole body in either a 90 or 180 degree rotation. Meaning that the hips and waist must be involved to allow each individual to rotate their body in various directions.
Some times the waist (Yao) is used separately on its own without the hips (Kua) moving, as in the “Repulse The Monkey Posture” (Daonian Hou Shi) as seen in the accompanying photo of myself performing the Li Style Taijiquan Square Yard Form in the Kowloon Park, Kowloon, Hong Zhong, China were the hips remain square on to the front, but the waist is used to lead and guide the arms and hands smoothly into place. Another posture were the waist is used on its own to guide the hands is the “Crane Exercises Its Wings Posture” (Baihe Liangchi Shi) were the individual turns their waist (Yao) to the right and left, but the hips (Kua) remain square on, not moving at all.
Obviously, when turning the body in a 180 degree rotation to the right or to the left, it is the waist that turns firstly with the hips following as the bodyweight shifts from one leg to another, the hands and arms follow the turning of the waist they must not move ahead of the waist turning. There are many benefits in allowing the waist to turn separately from the actions of the hips, firstly the core muscles of the abdomen are used and strengthened, this is some times why some teachers say to move from the “Dantian” meaning to use your waist to guide and lead the whole body. Secondly the gentle turning of the waist allows for a far more supple back and spinal column, which again can release any blockages that may occur within the nervous system that travels the spinal column, plus releasing muscular tension that has accumulated in the muscles of the back, allowing the individual to become more relaxed and calm within themselves.